Belfast Telegraph

Poll: 51% of Northern Ireland voters back united Ireland, according to Lord Ashcroft survey

The results of the Lord Ashcroft poll
The results of the Lord Ashcroft poll
The figures break down to 51% to 49% for unification when those who don't know and others who say they would not vote are excluded.

By Eimear McGovern

Just over half of people in Northern Ireland would vote for Irish unification if there was a border poll tomorrow, according to a survey.

The, poll published by Lord Ashcroft, shows that 45% of those survey said they would stay in the UK, while 46% said they would vote to leave and join the Republic of Ireland.

The figures break down to 51% to 49% for unification when those who don't know and others who say they would not vote are excluded.

The over-65 age group was the only group surveyed in which the majority said they'd stay in the union (62% to 38% when excluding don’t knows and those who would not vote).

"This is in fact a statistical tie, and well within the margin of error," said Lord Ashcroft, analysing the results.

"Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled,” he said.

"Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland."

1,542 adults here were interviewed online between August 30 and September 2 for Lord Ashcroft's latest poll.

One in 20 unionists said they would opt for Irish unification while a further 6% said they didn't know how they would vote.

Meanwhile, women were more likely to be doubtful as to how they'd vote with 13% saying they weren't sure compared to 3% of men.

The majority of those surveyed (59%) said if there was a referendum tomorrow, they thought Northern Ireland as a whole would remain in the UK.

But when asked about the outcome if a vote happened in ten years time, most (54%) said they believed Northern Ireland would vote for unification with Ireland.

The results show that unionists are considerably less confident about the chances of winning a vote in 10 years’ time. But 87% of Unionists believe Northern Ireland would vote to remain in the UK if a border poll were held tomorrow.

Nationalists are more confident. Just over half (53%) think Northern Ireland would vote for unification tomorrow and 93% believe this would be the case in 10 years’ time.

More than half of those survey think Brexit makes Irish unification a more likely outcome and the same percentage (51%) said they'd like to see the UK remain in the EU.

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